Building a Life of Infinite Benefit

How strengthening my conviction in the power of Nam-myoho-renge-kyo saved my family.

Sylvia Carle says, “Transforming myself is the direct path to transforming all things.” Photo by KEN O’FERRALL.

by Sylvia Carle

Six years ago, my beloved husband died suddenly from leukemia. It was a shock to everyone, especially my three children. While struggling to take care of my family and fight through my own grief, I discovered that my 26-year-old son, John, was addicted to heroin.

So began my fierce battle. Two times my son almost died. Two times I placed him in a well-known rehab, but nothing worked. It didn’t matter how much he was loved or protected, or how much
I manipulated the environment; his addiction was a monster.

In the midst of tears, I would recite guidance from SGI President Ikeda that I had made my battle cry.

He cited this passage from The Record of the Orally Transmitted Teachings: “If in a single moment of life we exhaust the pains and trials of millions of kalpas, then instant after instant there will arise in us the three Buddha bodies with which we are eternally endowed. Nam-myoho-renge-kyo is just such a ‘diligent’ practice” (p. 214).

President Ikeda went on to say: “Ever since our second Soka Gakkai president, Josei Toda, explained this passage to me in my youth, I have made it the personal motto by which I have lived my life. In all my struggles, I have borne these words ever in mind” (On Attaining Buddhahood in This Lifetime Lecture Series, pp. 42–43).

Just as Sensei had done throughout his life, I wanted each Nam-myoho-renge-kyo that I chanted to be powerful enough to change my deepest suffering.

John’s addiction became so bad that the police raided my home, which was another traumatic event. But I knew, no matter how ugly things became, that this was my mission for kosen-rufu and that my son, no matter how impossible it seemed, would fulfill his mission for kosen-rufu as well.

During the darkest moments of the last six years, I introduced many people to the practice, hosted intro-to-Buddhism meetings at my house and chanted with the determination that:

I would change myself.
I would change the roots of my family karma.
I would never be defeated.
I would see the Buddha in my son, not my son with a heroin addiction.
I would keep victory in my heart.

Then, to deal with his extreme anxiety, John started to chant last year. He began treatments at a clinic and fell in love with a young woman named Annie. For the first time in a long time, I started to see hope in him.

After the 50,000 Lions of Justice Festival was announced, I promised Sensei that I would pour my whole life into the movement and that John and Annie would be among the Lions of Justice on Sept. 23. After I made this vow, my son started to teach Annie how to chant and do gongyo!

Just as things were looking up, John and I had a terrible fight this past March. I knew I was in the wrong, but I could not stop my feelings in that moment, and we ended up yelling at each other.

When it was all over, I sat in front of the Gohonzon and chanted to take 100 percent responsibility. I could then see that deep inside, I had been blaming my son for my suffering since my husband’s passing. For the next eight days, I chanted three hours every day to change myself and transform this delusion in my life. During that time, John refused to even look at me.

On the ninth day, however, an amazing thing happened. I woke up and heard him reciting a powerful gongyo. John greeted me as if nothing had happened between us. It was the first time he let me see him chanting.
That same morning, he passed his driving test, which he had never been able to do because of his anxiety. And that afternoon, John learned that he was hired for a full-time job, after not working for eight years!

On May 2, John and Annie registered for the 50K Festival!

Because of our deep karmic connection, John is in my life to help me manifest my Buddhahood. Because of him, I have chanted countless hours and helped seven people receive the Gohonzon in the last six years. He compels me to seek Nichiren Daishonin’s writings and President Ikeda’s guidance like never before, have deeper compassion and show actual proof of Buddhist practice. He compels me to be a Buddha.

I was told by experts that it would be impossible for my son’s brain to return to normal after the damage caused from his heroin use. I say that nothing is impossible with Nam-myoho-renge-kyo. Today, John is healthy and continuing to work full time while pursuing his dream in art. There’s joy and laughter in our home now, and I know that as long as
I continue to do my human revolution, my son will become absolutely happy.

I’m deeply appreciative for Sensei’s encouragement and the SGI-USA’s 50K movement, which I firmly believe is the key to transforming the karma of our planet. When I first started practicing Buddhism 48 years ago, I wanted to change the world but didn’t care much about transforming myself. Now I know that transforming myself is the direct path to transforming all things!

(p. 5)


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